Detroit Smoldering Amid Race Riots

Filed under Detroit Tigers
July 23, 1967

Police watch as chaos spills into the intersection of 12th and Clairmont in Detroit following a predawn police raid on a blind pig -- an illegal drinking establishment. Detroit News
The Detroit Tigers swept Sunday’s doubleheader against the New York Yankees, but the fans’ and players’ attention was off the field on the smoke rising into the sky from beyond right field. A news blackout was in effect, but players and club officials soon learned what was going on. On the field, Jim Price and Mickey Stanley doubled to start the three run rally that led to the Tigers’ 5-4 win in the finale. Mickey Lolich (9-4) and Fred Gladding combined in the Tigers’ 9-3 opening victory.

Thousands of rampaging Negroes firebombed and looted huge sections of the nation’s fifth largest city last night and today. The destructive fury spread from downtown to a point seven miles out, almost to the city limits. Three-mile and four-mile sections of the streets crisscrossed the heart of Detroit became wastelands of fire and unrestrained looting. Michigan Governor George Romney ordered 2,000 national guardsmen, backed by tanks, to quell the riot. At this time, at least five people have been killed. “It looks like a city that has been bombed,” Romney said as violence whipped uncontrolled over most sections of the city. Sporadic gunfire broke out and police hunted snipers. Scores were injured, many from stabbings. Police have more than 760 people under arrest. The earlier outbreak of violence came after a late night police raid on a Negro nightspot that police claimed was selling liquor illegally. The raid of this “blind pig” establishment interrupted a party celebrating the return of two soldiers from Vietnam.

Detroit outfielder Willie Horton left the stadium for the riot zone. “People were telling us to go straight home,” Horton said. “And then the next thing I know, I still have my uniform and I was out in the middle of the riots.” However, Horton was unable to calm the crowd. Rep. John Conyers went into the area, climbed atop a car and shouted through a megaphone for the crowd to disperse. As Conyers stepped down from the car after his speech, a rock hit the street five feet from him. Over seventy blazes within the city are unchecked as firemen have been told not to enter the areas because the police could not protect them from rioters’ attack.

The Tigers announced that because of the riots, the three-game series with the Baltimore Orioles has been transferred to Baltimore Wednesday and Thursday. General Manager Jim Campbell sent Gov. Romney a wire offering to play the games before empty stands but to have it televised locally to help keep people off the streets. Romney decided the lights of the ball park would only attract crowds, so the Tigers switched the series to Baltimore.

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